Display Advertising Measurement for Mobile

Display advertising is a type of online advertising that comes in several forms, including banner ads, rich media and more. Unlike text-based ads, display advertising relies on elements such as images, audio and video to communicate an advertising message. Mobile usage is accelerate at a remarkable pace, with the latest statistics indicating that smartphone penetration is at 108% in Ireland with approximately €64.9m spent on mobile advertising in 2011 with approximately €20.7 of that being spent on display. This was a 41% YoY growth. In many quarters, display mobile ad usage is still viewed with precaution, and this is mainly due to the issue of measurement with advertisers and publishers left guessing.  According to Stefan Bardega, head of mobile innovation at MediaCom, ‘If you can’t prove it works, you’ve got no chance. The big issue on the brand space is we’re still tracking brand effectiveness for mobile display advertising with direct response rates’. 

Display ads in the mobile world are still at an embryonic stage and this creates unique problems for advertisers and publishers alike. 

According to a 2012 Marchex study into the real value of mobile advertising:

  • It can take an average of nearly 500,000 impressions to generate a quality phone call.
  • Mobile display advertising is significantly overpriced when it comes to acquiring new customers.
  • Clicks are not indicative of customer intent. This means there can be high rates of accidental clicks on mobile display ads.
  • Mobile display ad performance varies wildly. In one case, a campaign that got 1.4 million impressions did not result in one quality phone call.

Tracking mobile advertising provides very unique problems including standard measurements and at the moment nobody seems to have cracked it. Currently, there is no industry standard measurement criteria  for mobile display advertising, although certain bodies, such as IAB have put forward proposals in the Mobile Web Advertising Measurement Guidelines. However, the technology to implement these proposals is still in development. As somebody who works for a client, it is vital that I can demonstrate ROI and at present there is no clear definition for a mobile impression or unique mobile user. Another issue is the lack of integration between mobile websites and mobile apps. When that happens, as well as a standardisation in measurement criteria, mobile campaigns will be able to expand on the basic ad currencies of CPM and CTR that help interpret data. Additional mobile metrics, like dwell time and interaction rates by component, will truly make mobile campaigns more useful.

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